OAK PARK, Mich. - In 2000, 15-year-old Kimberly Gillary -- a vibrant and by all appearance healthy athlete -- died of sudden cardiac arrest while playing water polo for her Troy Athens High School team.
Had there been a defibrillator available it might have saved her. The tragedy set her parents on a mission.
"We decided that what we would do is we would try to prevent other families from going through what we did when we lost our beloved Kimberly," said her dad, Randy Gillary.
The Kimberly Gillary Foundation, established by Randy and his wife, has gifted 605 AED machines to schools across Michigan. On Tuesday, students and staff Lubavitch Yeshiva International School in Oak Park gratefully received their own.
"God willing, it won't have any use because there will not be any cardiac arrests within our youth. But even if it only saves one, it's already enough," said Rabbi Mendel Stein, of Lubavitch Yeshiva International School.
Getting defibrillators into schools is a huge first step, but they work only if they are maintained.
"The batteries do wear out. I think they typically (last) 3 to 4 years. So you have to make sure you're battery is up to date. There is no point having an AED if it doesn't work," said Randy.
People have to know how to use them which is why Randy is working with the state legislature on mandatory training in schools.
"What coach is going to say, 'Well we don't need to practice this year, we're just going to go to the championship game and hope everybody does well,' that doesn't work," he said.
If you'd like to contact the Kimberly Gillary Foundation for information on how to get an AED at your school, visit their website.
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